Posted by: atowhee | May 21, 2015


Gen-teal, as in GENuine TEAL. Blue-winged at that, not the much more expected Green-winged variety.  There are some Blue-wings breeding in Klamath and marshy areas on the other side of the Cascades. There breeding status here in Jackson County stands at “maybe.”BW FACING (1280x960) BW HEADING (1280x960) BW MALES BW PREENZ (1280x960) BWTRIO (1280x960) BWTRIO2 (1280x960) BWTRIUMF (1280x960) BWTWO (1280x960)These two drakes and the female were in the thumb of water that is next to the road atop a berm that leads to the pioneer cemetery from Hwy 66 on the west side of Emigrant Lake.

There are 1270 species recorded for the lake on eBird, but NO PREVIOUS RECORD FOR BLUE-WINGED TEAL.

I personally have recorded via eBird 228 species (previously) somewhere in Jackson County.  This teal will make 229 even though I have previously seen 26 waterfowl species, including Trumpeter Swans.  These easterly ducks are just not found often in the Rogue Valley.  But this year Em Lake is higher than last and has flooded some temporary grasslands that developed on the formerly drought-exposed lakebed…perhaps this is the habitat BWT prefer…and just maybe…

Emigrant Lake, Jackson, US-OR
May 21, 2015 4:00 PM – 5:15 PM
Comments:     drizzle, no wind
27 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  60     dozen goslings
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  2
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  4
Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors)  3     county lifer for me, rarity in Jackson County
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  1
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1     in pioneer cemetery newly mown
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  1
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)  2
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  3
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  4
Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)  1
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)  2
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  5
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  1
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  40
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  3
Oak Titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus)  1
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)  1
Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)  1
Wilson’s Warbler (Cardellina pusilla)  1
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  4
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  6
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  6

Posted by: atowhee | May 20, 2015


The Sandhill Crame is the tallest bird that nests here in Oregon.  I never expected to actually see a crane sitting on her nest.  Even on public land I don’t think I would go traipsing across a possible nesting meadow.  Too disturbing for the birds and what if I literally stumbled across the nest?

It was with great joy and surprise that I stumbled across a crane nest location, right beside the road.  And I could take pictures without getting out of the car.crane mom1The nest was along a side road off OR7 as it parallels the Powder River in western Baker County.  It was only about thirty feet below the berm that lifted the road above the marsh.  The first day I found the nest the male was nearby, on my return visits he was not to be seen.CRANES (1280x960) (2)CRANE MALE (1280x960) (2)CRANE FMALE (1280x960) (2)  CRANE STARE

Below a pair of cranes in a field, also along OR7.  This was near the ghost town of Whitney.whitney crane uprit whitney cranes1 whitney cranes2These birds have certainly changed their gray plumage to a deep rusty color.  The cranes do it by rubbing iron-rich mud onto the feathers, staining them.  Here is their crane meadow:WHITNEY CRANES (1280x960)


At Deadwood Junction along Dead Indian Memorial Road in Jackson County I slowed down the car and set off a territorial dance by a lone adult crane just across the fence: Dance1 (1280x960) dance2 (1280x960) dance3 (1280x960) dance4 (1280x960) dance5 (1280x960) dance7 (1280x960) dance8 (1280x960) dance9 (1280x960)after dance (1280x960)The clear message: get away.  I left.

Posted by: atowhee | May 19, 2015


My four-day excursion to Le Grande and back took me through Harney County…and there were those sparrows we often find on the Malheur trips.  I have two Klamth Bird Observatory Malheur trips coming up next month.  But the sparrows are already there…awaiting our arrival.brew spar1 (1280x960) BS2Brewer’s Sparrow above, same Brewer that has a blackbird namesake, 19th Century Boston ornithologist.  Below, the newly renamed Sagebrush Sparrow, a flashier sort than the plain Brewer’s.  Both were in Harney County. SB AT TOP sb sparo (1280x960) sb sparo cu (1280x960) sb sparo2 (1280x960) sb sparo3 (1280x960)In addition I saw two Lark Sparrows feeding along the street curb in Burns.  They skittered away before I could get a shot off.

Posted by: atowhee | May 19, 2015


Our OLLI bird class field trip was on the edge of the rain-soaked playing fields at North Mountain Park this morning when we saw a major score by the home team.  It was a Cooper’s Hawk on the wet grass tightening his grip on a Starling.  Soon the hawk flew off to its nest along Bear Creek, deposited the starling there and then returned to sit in front of us on a dead treetop to try and straighten and eventually dry its feathers.wet coopYou can see the wet, unruly feathers pooched out from this normally sleek bird’s surface.

The rain and bad light made photos almost worthless but I like this one for its clear profile outline, notched tail, straight-edged beak.  Purple Finch.pufi profilCedar Waxwings were abundant with several flocks passing overhead.

North Mountain Park, Jackson, US-OR
May 19, 2015 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM.  26 species

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  6
Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  1     caught Starling, carried it to nest
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon))  X
Band-tailed Pigeon (Patagioenas fasciata)  2
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  2
Vaux’s Swift (Chaetura vauxi)  1
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  3
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  2
Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus)  1
Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)  1
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  6
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  3
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  5
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  30
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1     carrying food to nest hole
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  4
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  100
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  4
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  X
Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)  3
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)  1
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)  40
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  3

Posted by: atowhee | May 16, 2015


This morning a led a field trip for the Ladd Marsh Bird Festival based in Le Grande.  After the trip I left for home.  It was great way to end my first visit to the fest…started last night with a keynote address on my favorite owl.  This morning our group saw SIX individual Great Gray Owls.  Three adults and three nestlings.  This was at the Spring Creek Management Area in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest north of Le Grande.

About 7 AM we arrived at the nest platform where the female was sheltering her three young.  Drizzle.  After not too long she flew off to a nearby branch and began softly calling “whoot, whoot.”   After about fifteen minutes of this the male flew in from the far right and she met him on another branch.  There he passed from beak to beak a dark shrew.  After accepting the prey the female flew back to the nest and awarded it to an owlet.  At the same time the male flew off into the woods in search of the next morsel.

Rain picked up and female formed a tent over the three owlets with her soft feathers.  Though her feather are not waterproof and she may get soaked sitting in the open she will not let the young get wet.   After more than a hour with the Gray Family, we went off in search of other birds but soon found ourselves watching a second male hunting.  He was focused on the ground beneath his perch, with both eyes and ears.  Each time he flew down to the ground, he failed to find prey and would then flutter back up to a new perch.  His landing would have alerted any possible prey in the near vicinity so he changed location after each plunge.  A Grande time was had by our whole group, even one birder from Yosemite area had seen on one previous GGO, and that fleetingly.  Several got more than one lifer.  We had a co-operative Black-backed Woodpecker, several flocks of chattering Red Crossbills, Pygmy Nuthatches at nest holes, even a MacGillivray’s Warbler that was partially visible though partial to hiding in the local thicket where he was found.


In order of appearance we have female, twice, the owlets, female tenting against the rain and then the lone hunting male on different perches.

GGO-FEMALE-SC (1280x1112) GGO-FEMALE-SC2 (1280x960) GGO-OWLETZ3 (1280x960) GGO-TENTS2 (1280x960)MALE HUNTZ-A (1280x960)MALE HUNTZ-D (1280x960) MALE LOKSDOWN (1280x960) MALE-AFAR (1280x960) MALE-HUNTZ-BEST (1280x960)

If you’d like a copy of the book on the Great Gray Owls of Oregon and neighboring states that Peter Thiemann and I have written (he did the great photos, far better than the ones you see here), just click on this link.

Wallowa-Whitman NF–Spring Creek Rd., Union, US-OR
May 16, 2015 7:10 AM – 11:50 AM. 30 species

Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa)  6     thee adults, three owlets in nest box
Williamson’s Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus thyroideus)  1
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)  2
White-headed Woodpecker (Picoides albolarvatus)  1
Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  4
Cassin’s Vireo (Vireo cassinii)  1
Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadensis)  1
Clark’s Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana)  2
Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli)  4
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)  3
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
Pygmy Nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea)  10     two pairs at nest holes
House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)  4     one pair at nest site with nesting material
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)  1
Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)  4
Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides)  1
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)  X
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
MacGillivray’s Warbler (Geothlypis tolmiei)  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)  4
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)  12
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1; Junco, many
Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)  1
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)  X
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  2
Cassin’s Finch (Haemorhous cassinii)  1
Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)  50


Posted by: atowhee | May 14, 2015


The Black Tern was once widespread and abundant in North America. Now it is found only in some locations where the marshes have not been drained and flying insects have not been hit with lethal pesticides over generations of insect breeding. Here is a gallery of shots because I find almost every move, every physical attitude of this bouncing, boisterous little hunter to be amazing.2BT ON LAND 2BT ON LAND2 bt bankx BT SHAPE BT SHAPE2 BT TERNS BT VERTICL

Posted by: atowhee | May 14, 2015


I am on my way to the Ladd Marsh Bird Festival in LeGrande, Oregon.  And I covered first 300+ miles today, staying overnight in metropolitan Burns.  Lots of good birding country en route.  Many of the species I saw today we will see again in June when I lead Klamath Bird Observatory’s trips to Malheur NWR which is in huge Harney County.  So if nay of these pictures interest you, there’s still time to come on the Malheur the second weekend in June, just contact KBO in Ashland, Oregon.

I think I added at least ten species to my 2015 Oregon list, all are migrants now present in winter.  Always a favorite spring bird is the graceful, bouyant, elegantly appointed Black Tern.  There were several dozen at Burns Pond this evening not far east of town along Hwy 78.2BT BT TO DIVEThis small tern hawks insects.  At this site there were even more Northern Rough-winged Swallows feeding the same way, but they looked jerky and mechanical next to the swooping, diving, flashy terns.

If you’re like me and can watch Black Terns for as long as time and they allow, click over to this Black Beauty blog, all terns all the time.

Many birds were either nesting already, paired in preparation or busily trying at attract mates…like the flock on winnowing Wilson’s Snipe I found in a flooded field about one mile west of Silver Lake (here the gas station is now open only on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday). Snipe #1 was south of Burns off Hwy 205.  The second snipe was near Klamath Lake. I tried for winnowing shots but kept missing them.  w-sn6w-sn4 The Yellow-rump was on the entrance sign of Collier State Park in Klamath County. yel rump1 yel rump2This owl is supposed to be active during the day?buro snooze BWT1 (1280x960)My first Blue-winged Teal of the year in Oregon.  The dull feathered female is just to the left of the male’s bright quarter moon. Klamath Marsh. BWT2 (1280x960)The more common and colorful Cinnamon Teal is common at the marsh. CINTE BRITE (1280x960)This crane was singalling me to stay in my car.  This is actually in the Cascades east of Ashland before you get to Klamath County.  Did later see distant cranes south of Burns.  That area has the state’s largest breeding population. dance2 (1280x960) dance8 (1280x960)This rain-dampened Ferruginous was resting by the roadside but finally, reluctantly seemingly, lifted off.  US 395 south of Riley urban center. FERRU FLITE (1280x960) FERRU FLITE2 (1280x960)Mountain Bluebird on sign in middle of nowhere as the sign so clearly says.  Lake County, not near anyplace.B-B POSTD (1280x960)Westside Road eagle nest. be sitz1 (1280x960)This is one of my best views of a Dusky Flycatcher at Rocky Point. hamm fly (1280x960) ibis wlkz (1280x960)Ibiswamp, Klamath County. ibiswamp1 (1280x960) ibiswamp2 (1280x960) ibiswamp3 (1280x960)This bluebird was near Klamath Marsh. MT-BLUUOsprey dining near nest, Klamath County. osp n nestThis fine fellow was south of Burns. YHB HUNCHD (1280x960) y-w centr (1280x960)Yellow Warbler at Rocky Point, Klamath Lake. y-w upp (1280x960)

Posted by: atowhee | May 12, 2015


A group of peeping Evening Grosbeaks went past our house mid-day…but they wouldn’t stay around for a photograph.  Saw my first Waxwings of the month zip past while I was at the pond this afternoon.

If you are a baby Mallard this is what it means to “log on.”

LOG ON (1280x960)And this is what it means to see a large, dangerous mammal on shore.  Head to the open sea…CLUTCH (1280x960)The pair of Spotted Sandpipers were feeding neatone another on the far bank of the pond.  Then a leap from low log to higher one.SPOT ON (1280x960) SPOT FLAP (1280x960)  SPOT UP (1280x960)And two adult nuthatches bringing food to their nestling inside a nest box near Ashland Creek.  The actual hand-off of food was instantaneous.  The babies inside are mature enough now that they come to the hole and grab the prey from mom or dad.  WBN1 WBN2 WBN3 WBN4 WBN5In this last shot the blue is the departing nuthatch, a faint smear of grey and black.WBN BLUR (1280x960)

Plenty of new flowers to add to the season’s list.  These were all in the Cascades at 4500 feet.WHITE TRILL (1280x960) IRIS-PALE (1280x960)5-PETAL (1280x960) KD IN ROAD (1280x960)“Jack” was near Emigrant Lake, not in the forest where his speed would be less valuable. JUMPIN JACK (1280x960)  COY1 (1280x960)This muskrat is one of two we saw on Bird Day at North Mountain so it was also Mammal Day. Not related to the beaver, the muskrat is called an “aquatic vole’ in my mammal guide.  Rats!MUSK1 (1280x960) C-MNK1 (1280x960) CGS ON RK (1280x960) AMPH (1280x960)P2440944 (1280x960)beasuter2 beauter-fly b--flyEnjoy these shots of the backlit Nashville Warbler, he’s often a tough customer when confronted by a camera. NAWA GOOD (1280x960) NAWA LEAN DOWN (1280x960)NAWA FACE (1280x960)The next birdsa were captives from Wildlife Images which only retains those birds unable to be free.  The Peregrine was blind in one eye.  The pale-face is an odd morph Red-tailed Hawk.  If you don;t recognize that owl you can’t read my blog any more…GHO! P2440926 (1280x960) P2440930 (1280x960) P2440931 (1280x960) P2440934 (1280x960) P2440935 (1280x960)Thus sapsucker was in Lithia Park but on Saturday there were three males chasing and calling and drumming along Keno Access Road, vying for territory.

Ashland Pond, Jackson, US-OR
May 11, 2015 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM.  20 species

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  12
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  1
Vaux’s Swift (Chaetura vauxi)  1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  3
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  X
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  X
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)  4
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  30
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)  6
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  2
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Wilson’s Warbler (Cardellina pusilla)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  X
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)  1
Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)  X
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)  1

Ashland Pond, Jackson, US-OR
May 12, 2015 4:45 PM – 5:30 PM.  21 species

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  20; Green Heron fly-over with squawk
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  1
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)  2
Vaux’s Swift (Chaetura vauxi)  1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  2
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  4
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)  2
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  20
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  1
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  12–first I’ve seen this month
Wilson’s Warbler (Cardellina pusilla)  1
Lincoln’s Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii)  2
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  3
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  2
Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)  2

Posted by: atowhee | May 10, 2015


Yesterday was Bird Day here in the Rogue Valley. I began the morning with a short field trip in North Mountain Park here in Ashland, part of the Bird Day celebration.  It’s our local event to go along with International Migratory Bird Day.  Click here to see great gallery of shots from the walk and the even, all taken by Graham Lewis, a real photographer.

Perhaps the one bird nobody could miss: Tree Swallow.  In the air.  On the wires. In and out of nest boxes.TS BOX (1280x960) T-S1 (1280x960) T-S2 (1280x960)There were more than than one Warbling Vireo above, in the oaks.  Tracking them with a camera was a challenge.WAVI HID (1280x960)WAVI FINE4 (1280x960) WAVI OPEN (1280x960)Here we see White-breasted Nuthatch landing on oak above the same nest hole they’ve used in two previous springs.   wbn above holeLater on bird day I found this unusual sight, a White-breasted Nuthatch on the ground, feeding alongside Robins.  The reason: numerous half-inch green caterpillars were rapeling out of the deciduous trees on thin silken strands and were finally reaching the ground.  Yum. wbn on grnd wbn on grnd2This male Western Tanager was badly backlit in a shady alcove of an oak. WT IN SHADE1 (1280x960)Much later in the day, over Howard Prairie Lake, this pair of Mature Bald Eagles soared in tandem.BE PAIRD (1280x960) BE PAIRD3 (1280x960) BE PARID2 (1280x960) BHG ON FDR (1280x960)Wherever I went yesterday the Black-headed grosbeaks were singing…and in my garden, emptying my feeders. bhg.topMRS.BHG (1280x960)MRS.BHG SIDE (1280x960)Female at feed.MRS.BHG3 (1280x960)Klamath Bird Observatory biologists were at Bird Day and mist-netting birds.  Here’s a North Flicker at close range. flkr hold1 flkr hold2

eBird Report – North Mountain Park, May 9, 2015


 North Mountain Park, Jackson, US-OR
May 9, 2015 7:30 AM – 9:30 AM.  29 speciesCanada Goose (Branta canadensis)  50
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  25
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)  1
California Quail (Callipepla californica)  1
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Vaux’s Swift (Chaetura vauxi)  1
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  2
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  2
Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus)  X
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  X
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  30
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  2
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  3
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  1
California Towhee (Melozone crissalis)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  3
Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)  1
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  4
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  4
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  5
Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)  2
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  4
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)  8
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  2
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X

Posted by: atowhee | May 10, 2015


I hear from Laura Navarette of the Whiteman-Wallowa National Forest that their field biologists have confirmed six nesting pairs of Great Gray Owls in their thirty-plus nest platforms in the forest.  I will be out in LeGrande later this week to give a talk on Great Gray Owls in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.  The talk will be at the dinner for the Ladd Marsh Bird Festival there on Friday.

The Spring Ares north of LeGrande has the largest and longest-running nest platform program anywhere in the U.S.  It’s success is heartening.  In our new book on Great Gray Owls, Peter Thiemann and I have included a chart through last spring of the nest platform use rate in Spring Creek.  Eight active platforms is the most in one year so far.  Occasionally none of the platforms get used.  That probably has to do to springs with little or low prey availability.  This past winter was wet and mild which may have spurred the local rodents to greater and earlier reproduction as they would have found plenty of plant food.

Here in Jackson County Rogue Valley Audubon is accepting donations to put up more platforms…so far local birders are monitoring 11 platforms most just erected last fall and winter.  We know of at least one successful platform-nesting pair so this far.  We’d like to get up more platforms in the coming fall.

ggo coverYou can click here for information on how to get this book which should be available for purchase by the end of May.

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